The South African National Research Network (SANReN) is part of a comprehensive South African government approach to cyberinfrastructure to ensure successful participation of South African researchers in the global knowledge production effort. Together with the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) and the Very Large Datebases (VLDB) project, SANReN forms a key component of this cyberinfrastructure as a core scientific infrastructure for South Africa.
The SANReN is a high-speed network dedicated to research traffic and research into research networking and broadband infrastructures. It is being rolled out in a phased manner and will connect up to 204 sites across the country with research networks hosting over 3 000 research and education organisations from all over the world in the first two phases, which commenced in 2007.
The SANReN initiative was conceptualised in 2003 in partnership with the then Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. Extensive planning and consultation on the South African approach to high performance computing and research networking were conducted since then. The SANReN and CHPC were discussed in Cabinet and the budget line items as part of the research infrastructure budget of DST were approved and announced during Minister Mangena’s budget speech in 2006.
The responsibility for the implementation planning was given to the CSIR Meraka Institute, at that stage already involved with the process of establishing the CHPC, in the beginning of 2006 to ensure a comprehensive and holistic approach to cyberinfrastructure development. A three-year contract was signed between the CSIR and DST in 2006 for the implementation and management of this project ending in financial year 2009/10. This includes all aspects of the research, design, planning, implementation and monitoring of the network for the period. The SANReN project subsequently forms part of the approved CSIR Meraka Institute business plans from 2006 onward.
The CSIR has identified TENET as a crucial partner in the deployment of SANReN. TENET currently operates the SANReN network on behalf of the CSIR, and has been intimately involved in the planning of many aspects of the network and further roll-out.